Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Glorious Fourth



Listening this morning to NPR, I was moved, as always, by the annual reading of The Declaration of Independence. Boy, that Thos. Jefferson could turn a phrase like nobody's business!

I have always loved the long list of complaints, directed at "the present King of Great Britain" -- poor old George III who ended his life in madness.

The charges range from the relatively staid "He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good" to my personal favorite "He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people."

A busy monarch -- I picture him descending like Gulliver on the Lilliputians, like Godzilla on Tokyo,white wig awry, snatching up ships and helpless colonists.

But that's just my vivid imagination at work.

What I really came here to talk about was the line that says "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

It's been 233 years and we, the people, are getting closer than ever to living up to this manifesto. The men who signed this stirring declaration said "all men are created equal" but were pretty limited in what they meant by 'men.'

White males only need apply. Protestant property owners preferred.

In the years since the signing of the Declaration, our country's laws have discriminated against women, African-Americans, Native Americans ("the merciless Indian savages" mentioned in the Declaration) and immigrants of all sorts -- and then there are all those discriminated against for their religion (or lack of it), their disabilities, or their sexual orientation.

We've come a very long way toward affirmation of that statement of equality. But we're not there yet.

(That was the end of this post. Then I took John in to pick up his truck from the garage. Coming back, I turned on the radio and was looking for some music. Instead I got He Who Shall Not Be Named -- the chubby right wing pundit whose initials are R.L. He was just talking about The Declaration of Independence and he mentioned the need to 'return to the principles of the Founding Fathers.'

All of their principles? I wonder how old R.L. feels about slavery. )





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5 comments:

Reader Wil said...

Bravo, Vicki! You've said exactly what I wanted to say. The statement of Jefferson was great: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."


But you are right that we have a long way to go. There was still slavery at the time. The Dutch were very active in the slave trade and the last nation to abolish slavery. We still discriminate against women,homosexuals, other religions etc.

This was a very impressive post! Happy Fourth July.

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Wonderful post Vicki!I wonder if I will live long enough to see it really become " all " are created equal.

We saw on the news yesterday where the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi elected a new mayor ,he is black. This is historical as the man who killed Medgar Evers is from this town. It was a stronghold of KKK. He said he can remember as a boy hiding with his parents from the KKK!

He said in his speech....

" I now hold the keys to all the places I was never allowed to enter as a child".

Happy 4th to you and your family!

Vicki Lane said...

Thank you, Reader Wil and Carol -- these are interesting times. I am proud to be a citizen of what is a magnificent work in progress - the USA.

Miss_Yves said...

Congratulations for your commited post!

Vicki Lane said...

Merci, Miss Yves!